Within 5 seconds of disaster: 2 planes nearly collide over Tel Aviv
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Within 5 seconds of disaster: 2 planes nearly collide over Tel Aviv

FedEx plane pilot sharply changes course, averting crash, after small United Nations aircraft strays from flight plan

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: An Air FedEx Express plane seen at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, on September 3, 2014. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative: An Air FedEx Express plane seen at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, on September 3, 2014. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Two airplanes came within seconds of colliding off the coast of Tel Aviv on Tuesday after one of the pilots wandered from his flight course and into the path of jet airliner landing at Ben-Gurion Airport.

The two planes passed within 100 meters (300 feet) of each other after the pilot of the jet saw the other aircraft and made a snap maneuver to prevent a crash, Channel 10 reported late Tuesday.

The incident Tuesday morning began when a United Nations small utility plane took off from the Sde Dov airfield in Tel Aviv at 6:30 a.m. on a flight towards Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

As the aircraft climbed to around 5,000 feet, it strayed from the approved flight plan that should have taken it north, over the city of Herzliya, and instead immediately turned south, the Hebrew-media Ynet website reported.

The UN plane flew into the path of a Boeing-757 airliner operated by courier delivery service FedEx Express as it was coming in to land at Ben Gurion Airport after flying in from Europe.

The two planes approached each other with a combined speed of some 700 kilometers per hour (430 mph).

With just five seconds to spare, the FedEx pilot saw the looming UN aircraft and sharply altered course to skim past, some 60 meters away.

Israeli aviation authorities have asked the UN to explain why its plane rerouted from the approved flight plan, the Channel 10 report said.

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